Joe Utterback (1944), jazz pianist and composer, native of Kansas, has performed in concert throughout the United States and Europe. His jazz-influenced compositions reflect the energy, color, and moods of his jazz piano improvisations and formal classical training. The idiom is tonal, the melodies vocal in nature. Utterback draws on jazz and blues traditions, Romantic and Impressionist colors, and, at times, gospel styles. His style has been highly influenced by Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, and Erroll Garner. He also includes among his favorite influential jazz musicians Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker. Joe's compositions reflect these influences; they also evidence a highly unique personal style. Joe composes for solo piano, organ, chorus, harpsichord, vocal solo, piano and organ duet, instrumental ensembles, and student jazz piano. His works are published exclusively by Jazzmuze, Inc.
The "Four Songs for Organ" were published in 1994. "Nativity Song" , inscribed "for Mary and Bill Todt," is the first of the group, and makes use of the tune "Greensleeves". While the "style" is consistent with the way the composer writes, these are not jazz, and are more "organ-like", althought the "version" that you're hearing is FAR more "elaborate" than the score indicates. To be honest, I feel almost like I'm using the written music as the basis for some sort of "improvisatory elaboration", although I am playing the notes pretty much as written. After a brief opening that uses the Swell strings and Vox Humana, there begins a sort iof "duet" between the Orchestral Oboe of the Solo and the Hautboy of the Swell. The central section is in the style of a "light, stately dance," and the final section returns to material that is similar to the opening, but richer in texture.